In line with previous Platform installers, 6.3 is a cumulative release that contains all enhancements and fixes from previous Platform releases and service packs.
Driver and application developers: In order to maintain a healthy code base, some tidying up is planned for the the next major update and details of the changes are given in the Deprecated Features section below. Please will you review this and update your applications and drivers as advised; these changes are not scheduled for introduction until Q1 2017 at the earliest. In the meantime service packs will be issued as required to correct bugs.
Platform 6.3 requires the following .NET framework version and library:
While previous Platforms required .NET Framework 3.5, Platform 6.3 requires that .NET Framework 4 or later is installed on your PC. Framework 4 has been available for a number of years and is provided for all operating systems that the Platform supports (Windows XP onwards). This change is to enable Platform components to take advantage of the new features that Framework 4 provides.
The installer will advise you if your PC does not have the required support and will request that you install it before continuing with the installation. The framework can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Centre please check under "Popular Downloads - Developer Tools" if Framework 4 is not otherwise listed.
The Platform also requires Visual C++ 10.0 libraries and the installer will provide these if they are not already present on your PC.
The ASCOM.Astrometry namespace of the Platform has become overcrowded with components that have similar capabilities but that differ in small ways from each other (e.g. NOVAS2, NOVAS2COM, NOVAS3, NOVAS3.1). The recent realisation that some NOVAS routines use iterative algorithms that can fail, when in very close proximity to the poles, led to a search for an alternative and the SOFA Library was found to be an actively maintained and authoritative choice.
The addition of a SOFA component brings the number of high precision astronomy libraries distributed within the Platform to 8! To reduce the maintenance burden, SOFA will become the primary high precision library for astronomical computing distributed with the ASCOM Platform and dependence of Platform components on NOVAS will be removed. However, the NOVAS routines provide functionality that is not present in SOFA e.g. major and minor planet ephemerides and consequently the NOVAS 3.1 component will continue to be distributed with the Platform.
The following NOVAS components will be removed from the Platform installer at the next major update and moved into a separate installer:
Replace use of the CCDSimulator.Camera ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Camera, which will invoke the "Camera V2 simulator
Replace use of the DomeSim.Telescope ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Dome, which will invoke the "Dome Simulator .NET" driver.
Filter Wheel Simulator
Replace use of the FilterWheelSim.FilterWheel ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.FilterWheel, which will invoke the "Filter Wheel Simulator [.NET]" driver.
Replace use of the FocuserSim.Focuser ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Focuser, which will invoke the "ASCOM Simulator Focuser Driver" driver.
Replace use of the SwitchSim.Switch ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Switch, which will invoke the "ASCOM SwitchV2 Simulator Driver" driver.
Replace use of the ScopeSim.Telescope ProgID with ASCOM.Simulator.Telescope, which will invoke the "Telescope Simulator for .NET" driver.